Saturday's weather will have everything but the kitchen sink thrown in as a powerful late winter storm roars across the Midwest. Much of my area will be fortunate to escape the worst of the wintry side of the system but even so there will be problems.
One of the striking aspects of this system is the strength. You can watch below a deep closed 500mb circulation roll out of the southwest on its way to the Great Lakes where it deepens to a pressure of 516mb. A very compact and energetic feature...what's known as a bowling ball in the business.
The track of this storm is crucial as to what type of weather develops in any given area. I've put the GFS surface features forecast up below. You can watch the low pressure come out of Kansas and head right over the eastern border of Iowa. Northwest of the low is the cold sector where significant snow and wind will be found. To the southeast is the warm sector where rain and thunderstorms will be the primary form of precipitation. My area is pretty much split by the 2 sectors as the storm cuts just southeast of Cedar Rapids on its way to Wisconsin.
With the intense nature of the cyclone it's not surprising the system is loaded with moisture. PWATS (precipitable water vapor) are exceptionally high and more than an inch as far north as the Quad Cities. Just look at that connection to the Gulf of Mexico and its rich moisture.
Some added perspective to the intensity of this system is the number of warnings and advisories that are in effect across the central U.S. Note the wide swath of blizzard warnings from Minnesota and Iowa into Kansas.
A significant issue for my area is the heavy rain potential. Several models show more than an inch of rain falling on a deep snow pack. The NWS in the Quad Cities put this situation report out regarding the heavy rain threat.
Here's what the GFS shows for rainfall.
Snowfall forecasts look like this as of Friday night. Most of my area won't see much until Saturday night when rain transitions to snow after the low passes. By then, much of the heavier precipitation is over so only minimal accumulations are expected southeast of a line from Guttenburg to Marshalltown and on to Des Moines.
The 3k NAM.
The one issue all areas will eventually deal with is extremely high winds. A high wind watch is out for much of my area for gusts that could reach 55 mph Saturday night or early Sunday. The NWS in the Quad Cities put this situation report out for the concern.
The strong NW winds will also bring falling temperatures Sunday and well below normal temperatures next week. In fact, by Monday the EURO has lows below zero north of I-80.
The cold is locking in too as the MJO makes a slow swing through the cold phases of 1, 2, and 3. Here's the day 5-15 day temperature anomaly ending March 9th.
No signs of spring for at least the first 2 weeks of March. On the plus side, we missed out on a first rate blizzard this weekend by little more than a whisker. Got a break there! Roll weather...TS